Mayor Richard M. Daley today urged Chicagoans to cooperate with 2010 federal census workers who began work this week verifying street addresses and the number of units in a property.
"The importance of the Census cannot be overstated," Daley said in a news conference held at the Chicago Regional Census Office, 500 W. Madison St. with federal, state and local officials and representatives of Chicago philanthropic groups who will provide $1 million in support of the information gathering process.
"Every year, the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to states and local governments based on Census data that are collected once every 10 years. If the Census data isn't accurate, it directly affects the amount of federal money that will come to Chicago for the next ten years," the Mayor said.
Daley said federal money helps fund critical programs that address a range of needs in Chicago and its neighborhoods, including programs for education, public safety, transportation, community development and social services.
Census data also directly determine how many seats each city and state gets in Congress and it’s used for legislative redistricting at the state and local levels, too.
And private developers often use Census data to understand demographics so they can figure out where to locate new development in a way that best meets a particular community’s needs.
"Especially in this difficult economy, it's critical to make sure that we receive every single federal dollar the city is entitled to. To do that, we want to make sure every Chicagoan is counted in the Census," Daley said.
The Mayor reminded residents that by Census workers must keep the information they gather confidential, so there is no need to be afraid of being counted.
At the same time, it is very important for all Chicago residents to understand that Census workers will not and cannot ask for personal information such as social security numbers or bank accounts.
"If someone tells you they are a Census worker and asks for this type of personal information, do not under any circumstances give out that information," Daley said.
The Mayor said the Census Bureau will be hiring in summer and fall to fill office, street operation and administrative functions, but that some positions are available now and the time to apply for them is now.
As of today, three U.S. Census offices are open in Chicago and five more will open by the end of summer.
To apply, residents should visit U.S. Census Bureau and look under the Chicago Regional job listing.
Daley said the City will soon announce the creation of a "Complete Count Committee" that will work over the next year to help raise awareness about the Census and to help reach out to specific populations that have been undercounted in previous Censuses, which is one of the biggest challenges to any Census effort - not only in Chicago but in cities across the nation.
The Committee will help make sure that specific groups, such veterans, ex-offenders, immigrants, the homeless and students know about the Census and complete a questionnaire next spring.
"To assist with the massive effort of communicating with these groups and others, for the first time ever a group of foundations will donate a total of one million dollars to assist with Census outreach activities," the Mayor said.
"These foundations recognize how important a complete and accurate census count is to their own work, and they also recognize that in this tough economy, local governments are short on resources," he said.
Mayor's Press Office/312.744.3334